Hospital CEO/CNO Eyes C-Suite, Earns DNP, Executive Leadership

Hospital CEO/CNO Eyes C-Suite, Earns DNP, Executive Leadership

Jeffrey Woods has an extensive history in healthcare, both at the bedside and as a consultant—and that varied experience has led him to realize the importance of continuous education.

“I’ve been a student most of my life in one form or another,” says Jeffrey, an American Sentinel Doctor of Nursing Practice Executive Leadership student and the CEO/CNO of Trustpoint Hospital in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. That description is no exaggeration. With three master’s degrees (in counseling psychology, public health administration and nursing), a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an associate degree in nursing, Jeffrey is certainly the epitome of a lifelong learner.

With a clinical background in mental health and 14 years of experience running his own healthcare consulting business—which worked with acute care hospitals across the U.S. on everything from strategic planning and budgeting to clinical program development and medical staff management—Jeffrey is something of a “unicorn” in healthcare. “I was a practicing nurse for many years and a business owner for many years,” he says. “I have seen the evolution of our industry and gained an understanding for the contribution that nurses make. It makes me better at what I do.” In 2008, Jeffrey became the executive director of psychiatry at St. Vincent Health in Indianapolis. Over a five-year period, he helped turn around the struggling organization dramatically.

A specialty in fixing hospitals

In 2013, Jeffrey was recruited by Trustpoint, a then-new hospital that was in the red and dealing with a variety of operational challenges. “They said, ‘We hear you fix hospitals…are you interested in helping us?’,” he recalls. Eventually he accepted the position, and worked his turnaround magic once again—the company achieved profitability by his second year as CEO/CNO and was sold earlier this month. “Everyone at this hospital has so much passion and heart, and the dynamics were aligned for change,” he says. “I’ve really grown to love this community.” 

Entering the DNP program

Jeff’s success turning around hospitals has inspired a new ambition. “I want to move into the executive suite of a large academic medical center one day,” he says. To fulfill those ambitions, he knew he would need a doctoral degree. An extensive search of universities, both brick and mortar and online options, led Jeff to American Sentinel University.

I looked at many Ph.D. programs, but this Doctor of Nursing Practice resonated with me because I wanted an action-oriented program,” Jeff says. “The work I do is completely about implementation. The DNP Executive Leadership is rich with implementation science and the content of the courses is absolutely relevant to the work I’ve done in the past and anticipate doing in the future.” He started the program in September 2014.

An excellent experience

Admittedly, Jeff had high hopes for the DNP—and he’s walking away very satisfied from the experience. “The program definitely exceeded my expectations,” says Jeff, who completed his capstone project on an issue close to his heart and closely tied to his professional experience. He looked at potential solutions for the national problem of emergency departments becoming crowded with mental health patients due to a lack of available beds in psychiatric facilities. His project was titled, “Impact on Emergency Department Boarding Time for Psychiatric Patients With and Without Mental Health Consultation-Liaison.” He worked with St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, a sister hospital to St. Vincent Health, where he worked previously. 

Graduation time

In June 2016, Jeff will attend American Sentinel University’s commencement ceremonies in Denver alongside the members of his cohort, with whom he has grown close.

Although his career has been on an upward trajectory even before he started the DNP Executive Leadership, he is excited to see how holding the degree will impact the future. “Having the terminal degree lends credibility to me and my organization,” he says. “Beyond that, I also know that it’s important for me to be a good role model. I’ve raised up other leaders throughout my career and encouraged them to grow through further education. If I do that, it’s important for me to move myself to the next level as well.”

Inspired by Jeffrey’s story? DNP with a specialization in educational leadership prepares master’s-educated nurses in nursing or other disciplines for leadership roles in today’s healthcare environment. When you acquire new knowledge, you can apply it to nursing practice in ways that enhance patient care and improve outcomes.


Have you dreamed of earning your BSNMSN or DNP? With American Sentinel, you can make that dream a reality.

Read the other student success stories for more inspiration.